Did you hear Boris Johnson insincerely telling the nation, “What we’ve got to make sure now is that we learn the lessons” from the death of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes?
It’s what they always say after a tragedy like this. And they never honour the pledge.
We know this because of Baby P.
Remember Peter Connelly? His death happened in strikingly similar circumstances to that of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.
He died after suffering more than 50 injuries inflicted by his mother, her partner and his brother over an eight-month period during which he had been repeatedly seen by children’s services officers from his local council and by NHS health professionals.
After the killers were convicted, then-children’s minister Tim Loughton said children were safer than before: “It would be in everyone’s interest – the families and the professionals involved – if we can learn lessons, find closure and move on.”
Arthur Labinjo-Hughes suffered multiple injuries inflicted by his father and his partner over a period of months during which he also had been visited by social services officers from his local council.
And now Boris Johnson rocks up to say we all need to “learn the lessons”:
We will leave absolutely no stone unturned to find out exactly what went wrong in the tragic and appalling case of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes. pic.twitter.com/v5AwHDy8Bw
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) December 4, 2021
Either it isn’t going to happen or it isn’t going to make any difference.
Baby P’s death triggered three inquiries and a nationwide review of social services care, all of which provided lengthy and detailed reports on how children could be better safeguarded.
But here we are, 14 years later – a long enough period of time for those changes to become ingrained into these services – and a child has died for almost exactly the same reasons as Baby P.
Nothing was learned at all.
Johnson has ordered an inquiry from which nothing will be learned at all.
Just think for a moment about what former Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield had to say about it: “For anyone who looks at the serious case reviews, or hears about them, that come after a child’s death, you will see the same things coming up time and time again – missed opportunities, lack of co-ordination, lack of data-sharing – the things that professionals need to have at hand to be able to protect these children, which still aren’t in place.”
Why aren’t they in place?
This Writer has a feeling there’s a very simple answer: funding cuts.
The year after the last report on Baby P was published, the Conservatives came into government in coalition with the Liberal Democrats – and local authority budgets were slashed to the bone.
It must be extremely difficult for any social services department to integrate complicated new procedures into its staff when bosses don’t know how many staff members they’re likely to have from one year to the next, or personnel quit because they can’t make ends meet, or they are deprived of the tools they need to do the job – or because of other reasons This Writer is unlikely to know.
So I reckon Johnson must have been happy he was speaking behind a mask, so none of us could see his forked tongue.
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